NAPPA Awards Q & A with Justin and Monique Honaman, creators of KIC-Start, 2019 NAPPA Award winner
Justin and Monique Honaman are based in Atlanta, Georgia. They are parents of two kids, ages 18 and 20 and launched Contender Brands in 2016 “after talking about various ideas for about 7 years!” We are thrilled to get to know them better.
Tell us a little about how KIC-Start was born and where your inspiration came from?
We love “BIG” talk. We love when we have engaging dialogue with others, as opposed to that small-talk banter that doesn’t accomplish anything. That idea led us to the creation of our first get-to-know-you conversation-starter game called, “Cocktail Farty” where FART stands for “Friends Admitting Real Truths.” We received such a tremendous response to that first game that we launched three more conversation-starter sets (Whine Barrel, BrewaHa, and KegO’Cards). Each of these games while more adult-focused, are not obscene or crude in any way, however we realized we had an opportunity to share the joy of great conversation with younger people as well. We recognize that kids are spending more time on technology, and less time engaging in eye-to-eye dialogue, and that led us to create KIC-Start. KIC stands for Kids in Conversation, and the whole idea is to teach kids the art of conversational curiosity (ask a question, listen with empathy, thoughtfully prepare an answer, respond and share). Our inspiration comes from recognizing the truly wonderful relationships that are made when people take the time to really talk, listen and connect to one another.
Tell us a little about your daily life as working parents.
Like so many other working parents, our daily lives are spent aligning the priorities of the day, juggling the various balls, and ensuring that the glass ones don’t drop. Our “day” jobs are very corporate. Justin works in digital technology and transformation, and Monique works in executive development. Contender Brands is our side-hustle where we are able to exercise our creative energies. We love coming up with new ideas and taking them from concept to creation.
What do you enjoy doing when not working?
Both of our children are in the process of launching out of our nest, and that is exciting as we see what the new change in routine brings to us all. We are both active in our communities and both serve on various boards and volunteer with various non-profits primarily those that serve to build children of courage, confidence and character. In our “free” time, we love to take our 3 rescue dogs on walks, love spending time at the lake, and enjoy hiking, kayaking, and all sorts of other outdoor adventures.
Favorite place to be with your family?
Family time with all 4 of us becomes more scarce as everyone gets involved in their own activities. Time together becomes more sacred! We’re not ashamed to admit that we use awesome adventure vacations (that we fully fund!) as opportunities for all four of us to connect, have fun, and spend quality time together!
Best life advice?
Monique’s life mantra is “What’s the worst that can happen?” People are frequently too slow to make change or take a risk for fear of what might happen. Asking, “what’s the worst that can happen?” helps you put things into perspective.
Justin’s life mantra is “All-in!” His approach is to give 100% energy and enthusiasm to every endeavor to which he commits.
Best advice for parents on trying to balance it all?
Don’t try to balance it all! Balance gives the perception of a teeter-totter where both ends need to be equally weighted in order to be in balance. Think of what happens when the bigger kid gets off the teeter-totter and the smaller kid would come crashing down. Frankly, on any given day, one priority or another in your life will require more attention than another. Instead of balancing it all, we prefer to think of it as being focused and present on whatever priority needs your attention at that point in time (instead of being at the school or sporting event worrying about the next day’s business meeting).
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